Under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979 it is a criminal offence to bring into or take out of the UK a controlled drug. Being found guilty of an offence related to importation of controlled drugs carries very serious penalties, so if you have been arrested or charged with such an offence, having an expert criminal defence team in your corner is essential.
The way your case is handled from the earliest stages can have a huge impact on the final outcome – any mistakes made during an interview with police, customs, or other legal authorities can be very hard to recover from if your importation of drugs case goes to trial.
Our specialist criminal defence solicitors have strong experience with all types of serious drugs cases, including those involving allegations of drug importation. We can ensure your case is handled correctly from day one, helping to make sure your defence is not compromised and that all of the key details are properly identified and leveraged to secure the most favourable outcome possible.
In many cases, we are able to help clients to avoid charges or see existing charges dropped where they have been wrongfully accused of importation of controlled drugs. Where prosecution is unavoidable, we can advise you on your options, including where a plea bargain may be a suitable option, and provide effective representation for criminal trials of all levels.
No matter what stage of proceedings you are at – whether you have not yet secured representation or are unhappy with your existing criminal defence lawyers – we can help.
Get in touch with our experienced importation of drugs solicitors now by using our simple contact form to request a call back or calling one of the following numbers:
01476 591711 – for standard enquiries during office hours
07535 215140 – for 24/7 emergency support including police station representation
How our criminal defence solicitors can help you with importation of controlled drugs charges
Police station representation for importation of drugs charges
We offer 24/7 police station representation for anyone interviewed or arrested for importation of controlled drugs. This includes arrests made by police, customs and other government agencies.
With our strong expertise in dealing with importation of drugs charges, we can offer the specialist expertise to make sure your case is handled the right way from the outset – something many duty solicitors will be unable to offer.
Legal representation for drug importation prosecutions
‘Fraudulent evasion of a prohibition by bringing into or taking out of the UK a controlled drug’ is a ‘triable either way’ offence, meaning it can be dealt with in either Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, depending on the severity of the crime.
We have strong experience with both Magistrates’ Court and Crown Court prosecutions, so can provide the robust representation you need no matter where your case is heard. With strong links to some of the UK’s leading criminal barristers, we can ensure you have the very best representation if your case goes to trial.
Proceeds of Crime Act (PoCA) proceedings
We are highly experienced with Proceeds of Crime Act proceedings, regularly helping clients who have had cash and other assets seized, bank accounts frozen or who are facing confiscation proceedings.
Having handled cases covering small amounts up to millions of pounds, we have the specialist expertise to ensure you can recover your assets wherever possible and minimise your losses where appropriate.
Common questions about drug importation offences
What is ‘fraudulent evasion of a prohibition by bringing into or taking out of the UK a controlled drug’?
This is the name of the specific offence of importing or exporting a controlled substance into or out of the UK (under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and the Customs and Excise Management Act 1979).
What is conspiracy to import drugs into the UK?
If you are arrested for, or charged with, conspiracy to import drugs into the UK this means you are considered to have played a role in a wider criminal conspiracy to bring a controlled substance into the country.
A criminal conspiracy is where two or more people plan a course of action that, if carried out, would result in a criminal offence being committed.
A key point to understand with conspiracy charges is that you do not need to have directly taken part in criminal activity to be charged with conspiracy. You could still be charged even if you are only involved in the planning of the conspiracy or if you carry out an action that is not in itself criminal, but still contributes to an overall plan that involves a crime taking place. For example, if you hire a car to be used in the importation of drugs, you could still be charged, even though hiring a car is not illegal.
What are the penalties for importing controlled drugs into the UK?
The penalties on conviction for importation of controlled drugs into the UK will depend on various factors, including the class of drugs involved, the quantity of the drugs and the level of involvement of the defendant in the offence.
The Sentencing Council guidelines set out the following potential penalties based on the class of drug imported:
Importing class A drugs carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment with a recommended sentencing range of 3.5-16 years’ custody.
Importing class B drugs carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine with a recommended sentencing range of 12 weeks’ to 10 years’ custody.
Importing class C drugs carries a maximum sentence of 14 years’ imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine with a recommended sentencing range of a community order up to 8 years’ custody.
What factors affect the sentence for an importation of drugs offence?
According to the importation of drugs sentencing guidelines, the length of sentence for an offence connecting to importing drugs will depend on two main factors:
- The defendant’s level of culpability (how significant their role was in the offence).
- The level of potential harm of the drugs involved (based on the class of drugs and quantity involved).
A defendant’s role will be classified as a ‘leading role’, a ‘significant role’ or a ‘lesser role’. The penalties for a leading or significant role will usually be much more severe than for defendants found guilty of playing a lesser role in a drug importation offence.
A leading role might involve actions such as directing or organising the operation, having close links with the original source of the drugs, abusing a position of trust and/or expecting to make substantial financial gain from the importation of drugs offence.
A significant role might involve actions such as playing a management role in part of the supply chain, involving others in the offence, having some awareness of the scale of the offence and being motivated by financial gain.
A lesser role might be where the defendant on has limited involvement under the direction of another, is acting under pressure, intimidation or due to exploitation, has very little awareness of the scale of the offence or where the drugs are for personal use only.
Funding your defence against importation of controlled drugs charges
Police station representation
When arrested or interviewed under caution at a police station you are entitled to free legal advice. This also applies if you are detained by police, customs, the National Crime Agency (NCA) or other government agency.
This entitlement to free legal advice is not means-tested and you can choose to use the available duty solicitor or request your own legal representation.
When charged with, or questioned about, an importation of drugs offence in the UK, we strongly recommend using our specialist criminal defence solicitors, rather than a duty solicitor who may lack experience with these types of drug importation offences.
Funding legal representation for a drug importation prosecution
You may be able to claim legal aid in the form of a Representation Order from the Criminal Defence service to cover the cost of your defence.
The process for claiming legal aid and how much of your defence costs you can claim will depend on your personal circumstances and whether you are being prosecuted in Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court.
Magistrates’ Court prosecutions for importation of controlled drugs
To secure a Representation Order to cover the cost of your legal defence for a Magistrates’ Court prosecution, you will need to pass a means test, to show you genuinely need financial assistance, and a merit test, to show that your defence is ‘in the interests of justice’.
A Representation Order may cover all or part of the cost of your defence for a Magistrates’ Court prosecution.
Crown Court prosecutions for importation of controlled drugs
For a Crown Court prosecution, you only need to take a means test. This is because it is automatically considered that it is in the interests of justice for defendants to have legal representation for Crown Court trials.
A Representation Order will normally only cover part of the cost of your defence in a Crown Court trial. You will therefore usually need to cover some of the cost of your defence yourself. However, if you are found not guilty, any financial contribution you have made towards your defence costs will be refunded with interest.
Find out more about funding your legal defence.
Why choose Conspiracy Solicitor for defence against importation of drugs charges?
Conspiracy Solicitor is a trading style of Bird and Co Solicitors LLP, a leading East Midlands law firm that has been supporting clients all over England and Wales for over 30 years.
Our specialist criminal defence team, led by Senior Partner Christopher Milligan, has over 200 years of combined experience with particular expertise serious drug offences, including those related to the importation of controlled drugs.
We are accredited by the Law Society for Criminal Litigation, recognising our expertise in all areas of criminal prosecutions.
How to transfer your case to Conspiracy Solicitor
If you are unhappy with your current solicitors or feel you need the specialist expertise of our experienced criminal defence team, we would be happy to talk with you about taking over your importation of drugs defence.
Where you are covering the cost of your own defence, or have not yet been granted legal aid (a Representation Order), transferring your case to us is straightforward. Simply get in touch and we will be happy to discuss this with you.
If you have already been granted a Representation Order for your current solicitors, you may be able to transfer that funding to our team under certain circumstances.
To transfer legal aid funding to our criminal defence team from your current solicitors, one of the following must apply:
- Your current solicitor needs to withdraw from the case e.g. for professional reasons such as a conflict of interest or personal reasons such as illness
- The relationship between you and your current legal team has completely broken down e.g. your solicitor has given you wrong advice that has harmed your defence
- There is another “substantial compelling” reason to change representation – whether to accept such a reason is for a judge to decide and this can be challenging to achieve
Find out more about transferring your case to Conspiracy Solicitors.
Contact Conspiracy Solicitor now
For immediate expert legal representation from our team of specialist serious drug offences defence solicitors, you can:
Call 07535 215140 at any time 24/7 for urgent police station representation